Lake Shore Billy Collins Poetry

local_library Lake Shore

by Billy Collins

Published in Issue No. 40 ~ September, 2000

It is not easy to admit this on paper,
but the surface of the lake
is flashing very much like diamonds,

and I would never say the wind is whispering
but it is doing
something very close to that.

How many times have scenes
like this one been written down
into your notebook or my notebook –

the sky, the stirring breeze,
even the pairs of swans
paddling in circles in the leafy coves?

But look up into this tree
at this freshly-made hole
big enough for a forearm,

a place where a woodpecker
must have worked for hours,
maybe all day,

gripping the rough bark,
his wings tucked in,
eyes beady with determination,

his red helmet on,
and his metal lunch pail
hanging from a nearby branch.

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In 2001, Collins was named U.S. Poet Laureate. His other honors and awards include fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation.
  • Brilliant as always, Collins has that down to earth style that instantly satisfies the need to communicate through concrete imagery. Four of my favorite lines from Collins are these from the poem “Forgetfulness” found in the recently published Winter Tales: Men Write about Aging:

    No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
    to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
    No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
    out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

    Isn’t that beautiful!